Archives for the month of: April, 2012

I watched a live stream of Seun Kuti, son of the legendary Fela Kuti, and his great band – the Egypt 80 – play at the Coachella Festival yesterday. While I didn’t personally agree with some of the things he said (pretty much what he said about marijuana), I was impressed with how great they all played. I’m very glad that Seun Kuti has picked up the torch and carried on the legacy of his father by maintaining very political with his music. If you haven’t, I would strongly recommend picking up (or downloading – whatever you’re into) his latest record “From Africa With Fury Rise“. It was one of my favorite records released last year and here is a track from it about African liberation.

Lyrics:

Our ear don full for your words
Our stomach still empty
Our ear don full for your words
Our stomach still empty
Our ear don full for your words
Our stomach still empty
Our ear don full for your words
Our stomach still empty
Our ear don full for your words
Our stomach still empty

I dey cry for my country
When I see am in the hands of these people
CHORUS: Yea yea
I dey cry for my country
When I see am in the hands of these people
CHORUS: Yea yea
I dey cry for Africa
When I see am in the hands of these people
CHORUS: Yea yea
Yea Yea na business dem dey take am dey do
Yeparipa
CHORUS: Na business to dem ohohoh

Na business dem dey take our country dey do
CHORUS: Na business to dem ohohoh
Na business dem dey do that’s why dem dey share am like oga
CHORUS: Na business to dem ohohoh
Na business dem dey do that’s why dem no dey share am with the people
CHORUS: Na business to dem ohohoh
Na business dem dey do, dem dey sell our continent away

Dem dey sell am every day and dem dey bring the people down (them dey bring us down)
Our children no dey chop and we still no get work
(ko si se lode oh)
Dem dey sell am every day an dem dey bring the people down
(won wow a n le ho)
We must rise up one day
We must rise up

We must rise up I say
We must rise up I say
We must rise up against the petroleum companies
We dey use our oil to destroy our land oh ho
We must rise against the diamond companies
Wey dey use our brothers as slave for the stone
We must rise against our African rulers
Wey be black man for face, white man for yansh
We must rise against companies like Mosanto and Halliburton
Wey dey use their food to make my people hungry

Oh yes, we must rise
CHORUS: Rise Rise Rise up
To grow our own food
CHORUS: Rise Rise Rise up
For our children to go school
CHORUS: Rise Rise Rise up
Make we get work  to do
CHORUS: Rise Rise Rise up
Make our life go dey better
CHORUS: Rise Rise Rise up

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Although you will probably not see this in the publications of the White Left, I feel it is important to present some space for a great revolutionary leader who, along with his countrymen and women, participated in one of the many (and great) national independence struggles of the twentieth century. The Algerian revolution provided inspiration to many revolutionaries in the U.S. The Algerians were a prime example of what the Chinese Communist Party were talking about in the 1960’s when they proudly proclaimed that “revolution is the main trend in the world today”.

After Algeria won it’s nominal independence in 1962, Ahmed Ben Bella was elected as the first president of Algeria. The new Algerian government was to become good friends to the Cubans, the Palestinians, and the ongoing liberation struggles of that time in Africa.

In an article called “Che Guevara, Cuba, and the Algerian Revolution“, Bella notes the Algerian-Cuban relationship at the time and the crucial aid provided by the Cubans at a time of a Western-backed Moroccan invasion in Algeria.

“The solidarity between us was spectacularly confirmed in October 1963, when the Tindouf campaign presented the first serious threat to the Algerian revolution.(4) Our young army, fresh from a war of liberation, had no air cover (since we didn’t have a single plane) or armored transport. It was attacked by the Moroccan armed forces on the terrain that was most unfavorable to it, where it was unable to use the only tactics it knew and had tried and tested in the liberation struggle, namely guerrilla warfare.

The vast barren expanses of desert were far from the mountains of Aures, Djurdjura, the Collo peninsula or Tlemcen, which had been its natural milieu and whose every resource and secret were familiar to it. Our enemies had decided that the momentum of Algerian revolution had to be broken before it grew too strong and carried everything in its wake.

The Egyptian president, Abdel Nasser, quickly provided us with the air cover we lacked, and Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, Rau’l Castro, and the other Cuban leaders sent us a battalion of 22 tanks and several hundred troops. They were deployed at Bedeau, south of Sidi Bel Abbes, where I inspected them, and were ready to enter into combat if the desert war continued. The tanks were fitted with infrared equipment that allowed them to be used at night. They had been delivered to Cuba by the Soviet Union on the express condition that they were not to be made available to third countries, even communist countries such as Bulgaria, in any circumstances. Despite these restrictions from Moscow, the Cubans defied all the taboos and sent their tanks to the assistance of the endangered Algerian revolution without a moment’s hesitation.

The United States was clearly behind the Tindouf campaign. We knew that the helicopters transporting the Moroccan troops were piloted by Americans. The same considerations of international solidarity subsequently led the Cubans to intervene on the other side of the Atlantic, in Angola, and elsewhere.

The circumstances surrounding the arrival of the tank battalion are worth recalling since they illustrate better than any commentary the nature of our special relations with Cuba.

When I visited Cuba in 1962, Fidel Castro made a point of honoring his country’s pledge to give us two billion old French francs worth of aid.(5) Because of Cuba’s economic situation, the aid was to be provided in sugar rather than in currency. I objected, arguing that Cuba needed her sugar at that time more than we did, he would not take no for an answer.

About a year after our discussion, a ship flying the Cuban flag docked in the port of Oran. Along with the promised cargo of sugar, we were surprised to discover two dozen tanks and hundreds of Cuban soldiers sent to help us. A brief note from Rau’l Castro, scribbled on a page torn out of an exercise book, announced this act of solidarity.”

To conclude this, here is a short video tribute that I stumbled across. It’s not in English but features some great footage of Ahmed Ben Bella throughout his life.

Ahmed Ben Bella, Presente!